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Features |  31 Aug 2016 13:38 |  By Kavita Yadav

Asha's tweet on music in TV ads sets industry thinking

MUMBAI: She's an icon for the nation, and when she speaks, it's bound to create ripples. Veteran singer Asha Bhosle's recent tweet lambasting tuneless singing and bad pronunciations in TV ads has got the ad industry thinking.

Wondering what her tweet read? Check it out.

So, is it true? Are the ad voices 'awful' and 'out of tune'? And the Hindi pronunciations and expressions bad? knocked at industry doors to get some answers and what we got in return was an insight into the 21st-century ad world in India. An age were 'cool' is the new 'perfect'. But, is this 'cool' really 'cool' with the rest of the industry? Let's check.

Pranay Rijia, a well-known name both in the ad world and on the Bollywood music scene, having composed music for 'Baaghi' last, agreed with the Padma Vibhushan singer as he said, "The ad industry is a Rs 90,000 core industry and it has a mix of people. There are a lot of new kids singing for the ads and they are not well trained. Most of the times, clients approve these projects. There are also engineers who turn composers on ads. These ads turn out to be objectionable."

Anu Malik, who recently bagged the National Award for ‘Moh Moh Ke Dhaage’, is someone who believes in moving with the times. He feels every industry is experimenting with tunes and words to stand out from the rest. In an attempt to do so, they face both failure and success. “I’ve also done ads, so I know that one has to work as per the brief and for a target audience. In such a situation, there is this tendency to go over the top. Ashaji must have come across one such ad,” explained Malik.

The composer quipped that one man’s food is another’s poison, but that 'Ashaji is definitely entitled to her opinion'. He reiterated that things have changed over the years - "I made different music in the 90s whereas, 2016 is seeing a different me. But take it or leave it, at the end of the day there is just one Asha Bhosle,” he added.

Yet another National Award recipient and well-known Bollywood playback singer, Anuradha Paudwal prefers to take a liberal view. “A song video is a reflection of the prevailing culture. Things will change over years. The current generation is more influenced by western culture and their ways of expression have changed drastically from ours. Music is a form of expression and that is what reflects in their work.”

The ‘Nazar Ke Saamne’ singer further said that there is a huge gap between today’s generation and the earlier ones, but that there is nothing wrong in it. She feels it’s their expression and it's right now, but it will be different again in the next 30-40 years.

Singer Abhijit Ghoshal who has sung for several TV ads and feature films, however agrees with Bhosle.“The recent Airtel ad had these lines ‘Phoolon Ka Taro Ka Sabka Kehna Hai Ek Hazaaron Mein Mere Papa Hai ’. I was asked to sing the lines for this commercial, but found it ludicrous that the makers were differentiating between 'fool' as a Hindi pronunciation and 'phool' as the Urdu word. I opted out of that assignment but was appalled to hear the new version - it's not even a patch on the original Lata-Kishore track. When I sang ‘Tum Husn Pari Tum Jaane Jahan’ for Nirma back in the 90s, it was sensible and grammatically correct. We do not have people who really understand the language anymore,” lamented Ghoshal.

Rijia, who agreed with Asha in principle, has another side of the story to tell. “Most ads need quirky and mad stuff, something that will get the consumer to buy the product. It is no longer a parameter for judging music standards. Films and albums are your way of expression, but not an ad. I do not show off my musical abilities in ads.”

Lesle Lewis, who composed for Disney’s music project in India, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ said he would not like to judge anyone, but he does agree with Bhosle. “What Ashaji is saying is correct technically. The benchmark of the art form has dropped and she is judging from the benchmark they set.”

Singer-music composer Ankit Tiwari too averred, “If Ashaji has said something, she has said it out of experience. Her work in the industry speaks volumes about her. I am not anywhere close to her, she is an institution. I just feel that if she has said something, we need to work towards making it better.”

The outspoken Asha has spoken. Will the ad industry take the bait?